Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Couple More Woodworking Tidbits from the Louvre

I didn't have nearly enough time to spend at the Louvre, but in the ancient Egypt area I found a few other interesting things.  First was the method of sealing a sarcophagus.  The following picture is the bottom portion of a sarcophagus.
Base of a sarcophagus - note mortises
Here is a closer view of the center mortise.  In this view you can see more clearly a hole for a peg that will be used to lock a tenon in the mortise.
Mortise and peg hole
And here is the tenon with matching peg hole on the upper portion of the sarcophagus.  Note that the grain direction of the tenon is perpendicular to the grain that it is protruding from.  This would make it a "loose tenon", but I'm not certain how it was attached.  Maybe some kind of glue, but maybe there was another peg - don't recall.
Loose tenon?

Another item in that area was a standard rectangular coffin.  The corners were mitered with a peg going through both pieces across the miter, as you can see in this picture.
From above, looking down at one corner: broken upper section with peg protruding
But interestingly, the 45° miter did not extend all the way to the top.  On another corner, you can see that the top transitions into a butt joint.  It was mitered almost all the way from bottom to top, transitioning to butt joint in the top 2-3 inches.  In the picture below, see if you can pick out the peg joining the mitered sides.  In the above picture I believe the wood was broken at the peg hole, an obvious weak spot.
Top of miter transitions to butt joint
Lastly, I wanted to share some pictures from many centuries later of "Scientific Instruments Used in the 17th and 18th Centuries".  Although these were called scientific instruments, I'd bet that most woodworkers had at least some of these instruments in their shops.

Protractor, dividers, squares
Three pronged caliper?  Not sure what this would be used for.
Protractors, dividers, squares, angle finders
Does that bottom square remind you of one of Schwarz' logos?  Great stuff.  It was a real thrill to see these things in the museum.


  1. I drove my wife up the wall when we visited the British Museum in London. I spent the whole day pointing out dovetails on every single wooden sarcophagus in the building.

    I bet I still have some photos somewhere.

    1. That's awesome, Brian. After a little time together at the museum, my wife suggested that we go our separate ways and meet up in a couple hours. It worked out for both of us!

  2. Interesting. I do the same when i spot woodworking related stuff in museums :-)